Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Preview
The Los Angeles Lakers (7-2) and the Phoenix Suns (6-3) will meet on Tuesday night for a Western Conference clash.
The Lakers come into the matchup after having their seven-game win streak snapped by the defending champion Toronto Raptors on Sunday. The Suns, the most surprising team in the league so far are coming off of a 138-112 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The game will be a matchup of Western Conference teams that are off to their best starts in almost a decade. It’s still too early to crown the Suns a playoff team, but the Lakers barring an injury to one of their superstars are assured a playoff berth for the first time since 2013. Whether or not the Suns will be a playoff team remains to be seen, but their fast start is no accident. Their offseason acquisitions (Aron Baynes and Ricky Rubio) are the perfect type of players to surround guys like Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre. Phoenix relies heavily on their outside shooting (38 percent on 3s on 34.4 attempts per game) and the Lakers excel at defending beyond the arc, holding their opponents to 30 percent shooting on 3-pointers.
Time: 9 PM ET
Arena: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Channel: SPECSN, FSA
Lakers: DeMarcus Cousins (O), Rajon Rondo (O)
Suns: Ty Jerome (O)
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
Lakers fans were confident their team would win their eighth straight. Their defense is the best in the league, Lebron James is moving faster than I’ve seen him move in years and the Raptors went into Sunday’s game without both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. For three quarters the Lakers looked like they were going to get that eighth straight victory, but then the final frame started. The Raptors started the fourth quarter with a 17-6 run on their way to beating LA, 113-104.
Anthony Davis scored 27 points and James posted his 85th career triple-double with a line of 13 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. Danny Green went 0-for-5 from the field in his first game against the team he won a ring with last season.
I’m sure the Lakers are disappointed in the loss, but through the start of the season, no team has imposed their will on their opponents quite like the purple and gold. Their defensive rating dropped a bit after their game against Toronto but it doesn’t matter, they have the defensive versatility necessary for this matchup.
The Lakers move at a blitz like speed on the perimeter, moving on a string as the ball zips around the perimeter. That defensive tenacity is going to be put to the test against Phoenix who leads the league in assists at 28.1 per game and plays at the league’s seventh-fastest pace. Showtime’s best chance at a win might just be to make this game ugly and rough the Suns up a bit.
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup
Ok, it’s official, the Phoenix Suns aren’t bad anymore. There’s no way I see them finishing in the top three, but their improvements are no accident. Their win over the Nets on Sunday is a culmination of what has made them so good this season. Phoenix had 37 assists, 12 of which came from their offseason signing Rubio, who also chipped in 22 points.
“We moved the ball. We played super unselfish,” Rubio said. “That is super fun to play.”
Booker led the Suns with 27 points on 4-for-5 from the 3-point line and added nine assists. Oubre added 18 points, five rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes of action. The Suns had an effective field goal percentage of 62 percent and finished with an offensive rating of 127.4.
Booker finally has the perfect point guard next to him. After years of the Suns trying (miserably) to find the right running mate for the 23-year old guard, they finally made the right move. Booker no longer looks like he’s playing 1-on-5 and in turn, he has shown more defensive intensity than I’ve seen from him since he came into the league. It turns out it’s easier to want to play defense when your team isn’t getting beat like a drum in the first quarter.
The Suns have both a top 10 defense and a top 10 offense. They shoot 38 percent on 3-pointers and lead the league in field goal percentage (47.5 percent). Their team stats are a direct result of Baynes and Rubio’s integration into the team. We’ll see if the Lakers can cool down their Pacific Division rivals.
Key Player Matchups
Lebron James vs. Kelly Oubre
Oubre will be tasked with trying to slow down James, who in his 17th season in the NBA is averaging 24.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 11 assists per game. James’ lost 2018-19 season, his first with the Lakers in which he only played in 55 games won’t matter one bit if he can keep up this level of play and the Lakers win a title. Oubre has continued where he left off last season when he joined the Suns after a trade from the Wizards. The fifth-year forward is averaging 17.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the field. He alone won’t be able to hold James in check, so he’ll be relying on swift rotations from his teammates.
Danny Green vs. Devin Booker
Booker is a bad man. I was starting to hear rumblings of people claiming Booker was overrated because the Suns were always so bad. However, if you watched Booker throughout the years, you would see one of the most gifted offensive players in the league carrying a group of guys that would be winning, 10 games? if it wasn’t for him. Booker is putting up 25.8 points on a career-high effective field goal percentage of 62 percent. Danny Green, the epitome of a 3-and-D player is going to have the assignment of slowing Booker down.
Anthony Davis vs. Dario Saric
This one is tough. I doubt Saric spends a lot of time 1-on-1 with Davis. It will all depend on what lineups both coaches end up rolling with to start the game. No matter what, Davis is a mismatch every single night, so it doesn’t matter who the Suns decide to roll with against him, he’s going to feast. Davis is putting in 26.6 points per game and 10.2 rebounds. He’s getting fouled or dishing the ball to an open man whenever the defense collapses on him. Expect more of the same for this game.
Your two best fantasy pickups for this matchup are Lebron James and Devin Booker. Both are highly productive, with James filling points, rebounds and assists at an elite level and Booker getting you points, assists and efficient shooting. James is available for $11.5k on FanDuel with his projected fantasy points set at 50.5. Booker is available for $8.8k with projected points at 38.9.
Interestingly, Anthony Davis is available for more than James, at $11.7k but his projected fantasy points are set at only 24.1 for this game. Another good pickup on the Sun’s side is Ricky Rubio. Rubio isn’t’ a very efficient shooter, but he collects a good amount of assists and steals. He’s available for $7.7k on FanDuel with projected points set at 29.9.
Bet on Matchup
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